I wasn’t worried about Banana Fish‘s pacing at first but now that I’m two episodes in, I have to wonder if this kind of speed is what the show is settling on. Quite a lot of stuff happened here: Ash rescuing Eiji and Skip, Eiji escaping, Skip dying, Ash getting convicted for a false murder charge, the good cops trying to help only for Ash to get sent to prison. Frankly, I have to wonder how many chapters have already been covered at this point. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s covered about two volumes by now.
Mileage will probably vary depending on your tastes but I personally get annoyed when an anime adaptation is obviously rushing through its source material. It just makes it hard for me to appreciate what’s unfolding for me. Moments such as Skip’s death and the revelation of Ash’s past in child trafficking don’t leave much of an impact because they happen in such rapid succession from each other. Not much time is given to let these shocks sink in and that can make feeling emotionally invested in the story a lot harder.
In Banana Fish‘s defense, you can still tell that it has a story it really wants to tell. What I’m liking most is how much of an uphill battle this is for Ash. Dino is clearly a really powerful man in New York City as he gets a corrupt cop to frame Marvin’s death on Ash and a judge to send the man straight to prison. It’s clear that he wants Ash gone if the latter won’t admit to having the secret drug in his possession. You have to wonder if Ash can make out of this alive. Maybe he should’ve used knowledge of the drug to get the good cops’ help but then again, it’s his only lead to understanding what happened to Griffin and who knows if Dino could counterattack with superior force. In spite of the fast pacing, I am still wondering how the story progresses.
The relationship between Ash and Eiji is going in an interesting direction as well. Even though he’s only known Eiji for about a day, it’s clear that Ash has taken a liking to the man. Banana Fish seems to present two reasons as to why. One is perhaps how Eiji can take risks and show impressive determination when push comes to shove. I mean, the guy pole vaults over a brick wall just so that he can escape and get the police to help. If that doesn’t speak to his character, I don’t know what will. The other reason (and this was overtly stated in dialogue) is how much Ash envies his new friend. I imagine Eiji’s life will soon turn upside down but there’s no denying that he’s lived a very peaceful and free life up until now. It’s a feeling that Ash is unfamiliar with since, for the better part of is life, he’s lived on streets chained down by Dino’s influence. Even though Ash is fighting a losing battle, I wonder if he hopes to one day have the kind of life Eiji has had and if Eiji will be the one to help him.
And yes, I do see a ship sailing here. Even if I didn’t know Banana Fish was an influential work in boy’s love, I probably would’ve picked up the subtext anyway.
I do wonder about how well Banana Fish executes this aspect of itself. To be honest, Marvin’s character was getting on my nerves a lot. Almost all of his poor decisions this episode revolved around him being too horny for Ash and finding out that he is a pedophile is an extremely troublesome detail. Granted, Marvin is just one character and I’m willing to give Banana Fish the benefit of the doubt over its depictions of male-male romance. Surely the manga must’ve done something right if it’s still well liked today.
OP: “Lost & Found” by Survive Said the Prophet
ED: “Prayer X” by King Gnu
I’m glad the production crew opted for rock songs for its theme songs. They fit the crime theme and New York Setting more than your usual J-Pop song would.
Thanks for reading!